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Calvin, Melvin

photosynthesis oxygen green manchester

(1911–97) US biochemist: elucidated biosynthetic paths in photosynthesis.

Calvin studied at Michigan, Minnesota and Manchester and then began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley in 1937. Except for war work on the atomic bomb, he remained there for the rest of his career. His interest in photosynthesis began in Manchester and developed from 1946, when new and sensitive analytical methods (notably the use of radioisotope labelling and chromatography) became available. Photo-synthesis is the process whereby green plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it by complex stages into starch and into oxygen (which is discharged into the air, at the rate of about 10 12 kg per year). This can be claimed as the most important of all biochemical processes, since animal life also depends on plant foods and on the oxygen-rich atmosphere which, over geological time, photosynthesis has provided.

Calvin allowed the single-celled green algae Chlorella to absorb radioactive CO2 for seconds only, and then detected the early products of reaction. By 1960 he had identified a cycle of reactions (the reductive pentose phosphate or Calvin cycle ) which form an important part of photosynthesis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1961.

Calvisius, Sethus (real name, Seth Kallwitz) [next] [back] Calvin, John (1509–1564) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION

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